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"Mark's Heavy Colorado Muley"
Written by Mark Carpenter

Mark's Heavy Colorado Muley
Preparations for my 2006 Colorado mule deer hunt actually began 9 years ago when I began collecting deer preference points. I didn't know exactly where I would use my points, but I knew they would provide me an opportunity to take a nice deer. Fast forward 9 years and after researching different hunting units where I could use my points, unit 21 near Rangely, Colorado stuck out as the best possibility of seeing a trophy size deer. I applied for and received a third season deer tag and the hunt took place during the beginning of the rut.

My trip started a little rough. My camper broke down in Grand Junction, which is 70 miles from my hunting area and I had to leave it at a repair shop. Now I would have to live out of my truck during the hunt. I also began coming down with the flu and didn't feel very good. I scouted all day on Friday prior to the Saturday opener. Even though I saw many deer that day, including three shooters, I should have scouted for two or three days. There are so many deer in Unit 21 and you need a lot of time to look over as many bucks as possible.

Finally it was opening morning. After making myself choke down some oatmeal, I headed to a spot where I'd seen a nice deer while scouting. He was a 4x4 with a 24-26 inch spread that I estimated scoring around 170 B&C. The deer genetics in this part of Colorado produce very tall and heavy antlers, but not overly wide - a 28 inch outside spread is a very good deer. I saw 7 nice bucks that day, but nothing worth shooting this early in the season. Later that afternoon, I spotted a nice 5x5 around 400 yards away. I attempted to move closer for a better shot, but I blew the stalk and spooked him.

As I was driving back to camp toward the end of the day, I spotted my deer following a doe and paying no attention to me. I immediately noticed his deep forks and tall rack, so I pulled off the little oil road, grabbed my rifle and casually walked into the sage flats away from the deer. I was using a Thompson Center Encore single shot rifle in 7MM Mag, and I had to break it open to insert a round. After reaching a safe distance from the road, I dropped to one knee and placed the scope's crosshairs on his front shoulder.

Mark's Heavy Colorado Muley
I was amazed to see the deer standing broadside at 125 yards and looking at me. Without hesitation, I cocked the hammer and squeezed the trigger. The shot was perfect and he lunged forward, stumbled and fell over almost exactly where I had shot him.

Now I began to doubt myself on whether he was the right deer to take on opening day. I cautiously approached the deer praying that he'd be as good as I had hoped. After examining his antlers, I was pleasantly surprised to see how thick they are and I'm thrilled to have harvested him. He's just over 24 inches wide, very tall, has great mass, and should score 170 or better.